Patna, May 31 (IANS) Bihar’s education system is reeling with the news — 66 per cent students who took the Class 12 Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) exams this year have failed. Two girls committed suicide and another attempted suicide after failing in the exams.
Reports of more suicides are coming in from the state, as well as protests by students who failed to clear the Class 12 exams, after authorities put in place stringent measures this year against rampant cheating.
What is worrying the top brass of the Bihar education department is that of the 12.61 lakh students who appeared in the BSEB exams this year, only 4.37 lakh – or 34.65 per cent – passed the exams while over 8 lakh have failed.
Last year, 11.55 lakh students appeared in the exam and 7.18 lakh or 62.19 per cent cleared it.
The reports of suicides come after nearly 70 per cent of those who took the Class 12 Science stream exams of BSEB failed, while 76 per cent students who took the Arts exam too failed. The only silver lining was that 73.76 per cent students appearing in the Commerce stream exams passed.
According to police officials, a girl student (Kiran Kumari) committed suicide by jumping in front of a train at Raghnathpur railway station in Buxar district. “She was depressed after she failed in the Class 12 Arts exams of the BSEB and ended her life,” police said.
Her body was recovered from the railway track by government railway police and sent for post-mortem and her family informed.
Another girl student (Aarti Kumar) committed suicide by hanging herself at Pirpainti in Bhagalpur district after she failed in the Class 12 Science exams. “She was staying at her maternal uncle’s home to pursue education for last few years as she originally is from Shahebganj in Jharkhand. Her family and relatives are shocked,” a police official said.
In Sheikhpura district, a girl attempted to commit suicide after she failed in the Class 12 Science exam of BSEB but was rescued by a close family member. “She has confessed that she tried to end her life after she failed in the exams,” a district police official said.
Unconfirmed reports reaching here from different districts suggest that at least half a dozen students have attempted to commit suicide in Bihar, after they failed in their Class 12 BSEB exams.
“Those who have failed in Class 12 exams of the BSEB this time account for over 8 lakh, it is a big number. Their frustration, depression and anger may create more trouble for the state government in coming days,” an education department official told IANS on condition of not being quoted.
He said a group of students who failed in Class 12 staged violent protest in Saharsa district on Tuesday evening. “There may be more such protests by students who have failed,” he added.
According to BSEB, the Science stream, which saw only 30.11 per cent students pass, had an average of 44.66 per cent marks scored. Last year, when the new rules against cheating were not in place, the state board exams saw 67.06 per cent Science students pass, while the Arts stream saw 80.87 per cent students pass
However, politics has also begun over the drastic fall in pass percentage of the BSEB. The opposition BJP has demanded resignation of the state Education Minister Ashok Choudhary and blamed him for the poor results.
“Bihar Education Minister Choudhary should resign. He is responsible for the high percentage of failed students in Class 12,” BJP spokesperson Prem Ranjan Patel said.
Ruling JD-U spokesperson Neeraj Kumar defended the strict measures against cheating. He asked BJP leaders whether they wanted the state government not to take strict measures against cheating or was the BJP for allowing cheating in exams.
“The BJP’s double face has been exposed again. When some irregularities were pointed out last year in the Class 12 results in the state, the BJP attacked the state government for not taking strict measures. Now it is questioning the same measures,” Kumar said.
Principal Secretary of education department R.K. Mahajan as well as BSEB chairman Anand Kishore have admitted that the poor pass percentage is a result of strict measures against cheating in exams. “We have not allowed cheating and conducted free and fair exams,” they said.
Kishore pointed that for the first time the board code was used with answer sheets to ensure no unfair means during evaluation and it was easy to identify the answer sheets once uploaded.
A senior official of the board said the drastic fall in pass percent rate vindicated their bid to conduct a cheating-free exam this time.
This year, CCTV cameras were installed at entrance of examination halls and videography conducted throughout the duration of the examinations.
Use of all communication gadgets, including mobile phones, inside the examination halls was disallowed.
Mass cheating in board exams has been reported in Bihar for years. Every year, the media carries images of cheating going on at exam centres, showing scores of people climbing through windows to hand over cheating material to examinees with impunity.
Last year, the topper scam tarnished the name of the Bihar education system. Ruby Rai had topped last year’s Class 12 examination conducted by the BSEB in humanities stream. She got into trouble after a sting by a TV news channel showed her giving ludicrous answers to elementary questions related to her subjects.
The Class 12 Science stream topper Saurabh Shreshtha was also caught on camera giving wrong answers to basic science questions about his subjects.
The sting suggested that the ‘toppers’ might have used cheating and fraud to achieve their top ranks.
Both Ruby and Saurabh belonged to V.R. College in Vaishali district. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Bihar Police arrested over 30 people, including former BSEB chairman, in the connection. Ruby was also arrested and later released on bail.